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HP High Court’s landmark judgment brings huge relief to children with disabilities

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umang foundation

Hat’s off to the efforts of Umang Foundation and its Chairman Ajai Shrivastva. It took years of fight for the rights of children with disabilities, but Ajai Shrivastva finally made the High Court hear the grievances of children with special needs. Court also awarded the NGO with Rs. 100,000 to be spent for the welfare of the disabled children.

SHIMLA- The High Court of Himachal Pradesh, in a landmark judgement, has directed the Himachal Pradesh Government to provide free education to the students with disabilities up to university level. The court has also enhanced the amount of their scholarship.

Now Himachal Pradesh will become the first state in the country to ensure absolutely free education. As per the disability law in India the disabled students have right to get free education up to the age of 18 years only. Now thousands of poor students with disability will be benefitted in Himachal Pradesh and the State Government is directed by the Court to enact law for the purpose within six months.

This historic judgement was delivered by the division bench of the High Court comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, taking suo motto cognizance of a letter written by Ajai Srivastava, Honorary Chairman of Umang Foundation, a public welfare trust, and a noted disability rights activist on the plight of disabled students to the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court in July 2011. The Court also awarded Rs. one lac to the Umang Foundation to be spent for the welfare of the disabled children. The Court also granted various other relives to the disabled students.

The Bench observed,
“It is their (the disabled) fundamental right and basic human right to be housed, protected with all basic amenities, i.e. food, clothing, special health care, provision for compulsory and free education and avenues for employment.”

The Judges also said,

 

The advanced society is the one which is sensitive towards the children with special needs. It is our fundamental duty to show them path and to preserve their dignity and respect. All efforts should be made to assimilate them in the main stream and there should not be feeling amongst the disabled children that they are left alone on lonely island.

The court directed the H.P. University and other two State Universities to make necessary amendments in the respective ordinances and prospectus for providing free education to the disabled students. The court also directed the H.P. State Public Service Commission and H.P .Subordinate Service Selection Board to amend their regulations accordingly within a period of six months.

The Judges said,

 It is the duty of the State to provide free and compulsory education to the children with special needs up to University level and all the professional courses in all the educational institutions under Articles 21/ 21 –A of the Constitution of India. It is also the duty of the State to provide financial support to these children by increasing their scholarships, stipends from time to time taking into consideration the price rise/ inflation under Article 41 of the Constitution of India.

With these observations, the judges made a direction to the Government to enhance scholarships for the disabled hostellers and day scholars.

Emphasizing the need to provide latest assistive technology to the blind students to “hone their skills to be self dependent”, the court ordered to provide screen readers, screen magnifiers, speech recognition software, text-to-speech (TTS)software, optical character recognition (OCR)software, large monitors, hand held magnifiers and standalone reading machines to them.

The court censured the State Government for the short comings in the implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995. The Bench said, “The Himachal Pradesh University, H.P. Board of School Education, Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, H.P. Agriculture University, Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission and H.P. Subordinate Service Selection Board have failed to provide amanuensis to the blind students as per Section 31 of PWD Act, 1995.” It directed them to provide amanuensis to the blind students as per the law.

In the judgement, the Court took a strong exception of not filling the posts of teaching faculties in the Government’s Special School for blind and deaf girls at Sundernagar and Special School for blind and deaf boys at Dhalli, Shimla run by H.P. State Council for Child Welfare and said,

Ordinarily the Court cannot issues direction for sanctioning and creation of posts, but extraordinary situation required extraordinary measures.

It directed to create and fill up various posts of teachers and other supporting staff on regular basis in the two Special Schools within six months.

However, considering the attitude of Government towards high court’s many other directions given in past, it’s really hard to believe that HP government will be able to implement anything in six-months. It’s the judiciary that has passed a highly kind judgement, but implementation lies in the hands of the same MLAs and government officials who had been ignoring the grievance of children with disabilities all these years. Our government lacks will to serve the public as well as people who are willful to serve.

Hat’s off to the efforts of Umang Foundation and its Chairman Ajai Shrivastva. Not just children with disabilities but the NGO has been fighting for the rights of destitute women and mentally ill inmates of Home for Destitute Women in Mashobara. On a number of occasions, Ajai Shrivastva has come ahead to help people in need.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Himachal Pradesh: 662 New Cases & 7 Deaths in 24 Hours, Over 4500 Cases & 55 Deaths in 9 Nine Days

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 report

Shimla– The number of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths in Himachal Pradesh was reported to be 662 and seven respectively on Friday till 7 pm. Kangra district reported the highest 165 new cases and four fatalities, while Sirmaur, Shimla, and Mandi recorded one fatality each.

View details of COVID-19 deaths below:

Daily covid 19 deaths

Source: HP NHM

Solan followed Kangra district with 132 new cases.

Find district-wise details of new cases below:

Daily COVID-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

Source: HP NHM

The COVID-19 case and death tallies have now reached 68173 and 1090 respectively. In April, the state has recorded a huge surge in cases. In the nine days of this month, the state has recorded 4568 new cases and 55 COVID-19 deaths – a rate of more than six deaths per day.

The state government today reviewed the situation in its Cabinet meeting and expressed concern. However, no restrictive measures were taken except extending the closure of all educational institutes till April 21.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur had been maintaining that a lockdown would be the last resort.

Further, the state government today said that to make vaccination people’s movement, 11th to 14th April may be celebrated as ‘Teeka Utsav’.

The government said that the biggest matter of concern was that the virus was spreading at a fast pace. In addition to this, the number of death has also increased rapidly. All the districts have been advised to enhance their capacity be it bed capacity, quarantine capacity and medical equipment capacity etc.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that strict action must also be taken against those involved in gross violation of SOPs. He said that the hoteliers must also strictly follow the SOPs so that the State Government may not be forced to take action. He said that laxity shown by the people has resulted in sharp resurgence of Covid cases in the State.

It’s pertinent to mention that during the campaigning for the elections to Municipal Corporations, all parties and their leaders including the Chief Minister violated all SOPs without attracting any action. The parties also faced criticism for ignoring public health for the sake of political interests, thus, setting wrong examples for the public.  

Feature Image: Pexels@polina-tankilevitch

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HP Cabinet Decisions: Educational Institutes Closed Till April 21 Amid COVID-19 Surge, No Decision on Other Restrictions

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HP Cabinet decision on curfew

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet today held a meeting in which it expressed concern over the sharp surge in Covid-19 cases in the State. The Cabinet decided to keep all educational institutions closed till April 21. The institutes would also remain closed for teaching and non-teaching staff except the staff required for exam duties till the 21st of this month.

A decision was taken to fill up 311 posts of Forest Guards in the Forest Department on a contract basis through direct recruitment. These include already approved 113 posts of Forest Guards by the State Cabinet during its meeting held on 9th of March this year.   

The Cabinet decided to fill up 25 posts of Agriculture Development Officers on a contract basis in Agriculture Department through HP Public Service Commission against direct recruitment quota. 

It decided to implement the central sector scheme SVAMITVA in the state for surveying the land parcels in rural inhabited areas using Drone technology. For this, Revenue Department would be designated as the Nodal Department for implementation of the scheme with the support of the Panchayati Raj Department. For this, MoU would be signed with the Survey of India for starting the scheme in the State. A State Steering Committee, State Project Management Unit and District Project Monitoring Unit would also be constituted for effective implementation of the scheme.

The cabinet also gave its nod to extend employment on compassionate ground to the eligible indigent of the deceased employees against available vacant posts of Class-III and Class-IV in relaxation of five percent quota as against the available vacant posts of class-III and Class-IV in DC offices of Shimla, Kinnaur, Solan and Kangra and office of Settlement Officer Kangra Division.  

It also gave its consent that the project for the development of multi-storey parking-cum-shopping complex at U-Block Mandi may be awarded under PPP mode to the highest bidder at an annual concession fee of Rs. 63,63,000 plus GST and all other applicable taxes per annum, as per terms and conditions of RFP. The selected bidder would also pay an upfront premium of Rs. 2 crores to the authority by way of five equal instalments of Rs. 40 lakh each for 24 months starting from the compliance date.

The cabinet also gave its approval for the creation of five posts of different categories for each newly created Nagar Panchayats viz Shahpur, Chirgaon, Nerwa, Nirmand, Anni, Kandaghat and Amb for smooth functioning of these newly created Nagar Panchayats.

Presentations were also made before the Cabinet by Jal Shakti Department on the prevailing drought situation in the State. It was decided to hold a review meeting under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister including all the stakeholder departments for further decisions.

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Una Murder Case: Body of 22-Year-Old Girl Exhumed, Enraged Villagers Create Ruckus

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una girl murder case

Una-The alleged murder of a 22-year-old girl in Jadla Kohri village under the Gagret sub-division of Una district created a stir on Wednesday as the police exhumed her body from near a temple complex.

According to the allegations, a man who was identified as one of the ‘pujaris of the temple, has admitted killing the girl. He reportedly admitted hitting her on the head with an iron rod and later burying the body.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Amb, has confirmed the report.

Una murder case

According to the initial information, the girl was missing since April 3, 2021, and a complaint regarding the same was filed at the local police station in Gagret the next day.

The police zeroed in on the said accused based on call details and reached the temple today. A large number of villagers also followed the police. When the police exhumed the body based on the location identified by the accused, angry villagers turned violent and demanded handing over the accused to them. A minor clash between police and villagers was also reported. Villagers vandalized the temple premises.

Amid this tense atmosphere, police somehow protected the accused from the enraged mob and managed to get him out safely.

The body of the girl was sent for post-mortem, the Superintendent of Police, Una, Arjit Sen, confirmed.

Though not officially confirmed, some local media reports suggested that the deceased and the accused were known to each other. The girl had recently got engaged to another man.

 Further details are awaited.

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